Category: Sports News

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Look To Take Advantage Of Rule Changes In Kicking Game

Due to several rule changes adopted by National Football League owners, kickoffs occurring in the game will look drastically different. The changes are intended to reduce the number of dangerous collisions that take place during kickoff returns and there is a list of them:

 

 

  • The kicking team must line up with five players on each side of the football

 

  • The ball must be kicked before players on the kicking team can run to cover the kick

 

  • The return team must line eight players in a set-up zone prior to the kick

 

  • Return team players cannot block opponents while in the 15-yard setup zone. On most kicks, this zone will be located from the kicking team’s 35-yard line to midfield

 

  • Wedges are no longer allowed to be formed by members of the return team

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers special team’s coach Nate Kaczor is giving careful scrutiny to the rule changes in hopes of determining how they will affect his unit. Many in the league, including the man many consider to be the top coach, Bill Belichick believes the special teams game to be an integral ingredient in deciding the outcome of an NFL football game.

 

The main issue for Buccaneers players, as well as players of all the league’s teams, is to be afforded more safety in kickoff plays while not sacrificing any of the game’s excitement. Smart coaches like Kaczor also recognize that the rule changes in the kicking game can be used to improve his team’s chances of scoring more points.

 

The fact that players covering kicks of the kicking team will no longer be afforded a running start is huge. A fast running NFL player can cover approximately ten yards in a single second and by having them remain stationary until the ball is kicked will give kick-returners more room to operate.

 

Running lanes are also likely to be a little broader because by requiring that five coverage personnel line up on each side of the football teams can no longer overload the side of the field where the ball will be kicked.

 

Kaczor and other special teams coordinators will no doubt look to load up on speedy return men to take advantage of these rule changes as a team that has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in an NFL game have been victorious 62% of the time over the last ten years.

The Building of the Golden Knights

In an NBC article dated May 26, 2018, James O’Brien looks at the journey of the Vegas Golden Knights. They had an element of exploiting the mistakes the team made in the past. Vegas absorbed other GM’s mistakes e.g. the contract awarded to David Clarkson.

 

The team wasn’t built with the thought of 2017 and 2018 in mind. Instead, it stock-piled a slew of picks. They agreed not to select unprotected players. They also agreed to trade some of their picks to other teams after the draft. They received a pick in the Panthers situation. Stockpiling defenseman was a big part of the plan. At first, there were low chances of first-season success. But afterward, it picked up.

 

Back in 2017, the player that carried its future was Marc-Andre Fleury. He gave his best in the playoffs and during the regular season. Sometimes he has looked superhuman. His team expectations were on him. He was fantastic yet injuries were a limiting factor. He was only able to play 46 regular season games. Other goalies got hurt also but they were still winners of the Pacific Division.

 

Other key players included James Neal and David Perron. Those who expected Neal to go down in history as Vegas’ best scorer were wrong. Neal was good, only that a few factors caused an unlikely first line to emerge.

 

At one time, George McPhee flipped Forsberg for Martin Erat. His capitals hoped to get over the hump for a playoff run. The management misdiagnosed Forsberg’s potential. During, before and after the expansion draft, similar situations happened.

 

When Forsberg was yet to get to the level of NHL, William Karlsson showed more potential. Blue Jackets instead bribed McPhee into not taking players like Jonas Korpisalo. They didn’t realize Karlsson would soon be Vegas’ Forsberg.

So that they could select Erik Haula, The Wild gave Vegas Tuch.

 

 

Sometimes, there were ulterior motives behind decisions. Sometimes, the gains overwhelmed the losses. McPhee’s supplementing of expansion draft selections with shrewd side deals helped. Without him, Golden Knight’s dynamic state would be non-existent.

Why USF Florida Gators Have to Happen

When you talk about football in Florida, the conversation can turn as serious as talking about it in Texas. It is for this reason that the head coach of the Florida Gators really has been pushing for a series with the University of Southern Florida. There are a number of reasons why this is a good move for the Bulls of USF. The biggest of these is the recognition that they will be playing a team in-state that is ranked in the top 25 on a regular basis. This is one of those boosts that you get on your resumé that can really get the attention of the media.. this also would have a monetary advantage that many people are not looking at having that kind of exposure especially if they win will put the school in the national spotlight and really give them something to brag about.

 

There is the benefit that comes for Raymond James Stadium and the surrounding area in 2023. With all of the fans, media and other people in town for the game, local businesses will greatly benefit from the increased business. While local businesses do well enough during football season, having the Florida Gators in town will just be an added bonus for the USF Bulls. This could be a massive shot to both schools Gainsville will see a huge increase in the number of fans that flock to their city in the years following the first meeting between these two teams.

 

The fans will be the last group that will benefit from these two teams meeting. It will be a battle for both teams and the fans of these respective teams will be in town to support their team. this helps to encourage a sense of team pride and will hopefully lead to a little fun Intra-state rivalry that many of the other teams in Florida enjoy such as Florida and Florida State or Florida State and Miami. This will add another chapter to this storied state and their rivalry in football.

 

All of these reasons are excellent reasons why the fans of both schools should be excited about these two teams going at it. This could lead to more schools in more states taking on the same concept in the upcoming years

ESPN Not Showing Much Respect For Bucs Upcoming Season

The kickoff to the 2018 National Football League season is now less than a 100 days away and that means it is time for prognosticators to make preseason projections.

 

On Tuesday, ESPN’s annual Power Index Rankings were released and the publication does not think highly of the Bucs chances to succeed in the 2018 season. In fact, ESPN predicts that Bucs will finish dead last in their division.

 

The FPI’s prediction is bad news for team General Manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter who both may need a playoff run by the team to retain employment for another season. The Bucs are rated as the 22nd best team in the league by the publication and has been given a 10% chance of making it to the playoffs. The Bucs odds of reaching the playoffs in the opinion of FPI is higher only than the Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.

 

The offseason overhaul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive unit has been much publicized by the team but has not impressed the prognosticators that produced ESPN’s FPI. The publication has rated the defense 28th in the league. The offense, which is led by star quarterback Jameis Winston is predicted to be in the middle of the pack.

 

NFL schedule makers obviously did the team no favors as they have the toughest schedule in the NFL. Nine of the team’s games this year would be against teams rated in the top ten by the FPI.

 

The good news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the report is that the team has a near 30% chance of landing a top-five pick in next year’s National Football League draft.

 

Players and coaches with the team do not take these predictions seriously and understand it is merely fun for fans. In fact, the Buccaneers organization is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the upcoming season and are expecting to see a great improvement over last year’s defensive performance.

 

Justin Evans, a second year player as a safety with the team expressed that there is a big difference in team chemistry with the defense than was present with the team a year ago. Evans says that the defensive coaching philosophy entails the unit improving in all aspects of their play.

Buccaneers Look Forward To Unleashing Retooled Backfield

Not many people with knowledge of the NFL found it surprising the that Tampa Bay Buccanneers used their second pick in the league draft to select a running back. This was especially so since the team had just released its starting running back for most of the last half a dozen seasons, Doug Martin.

However, the team is not in the middle of a total makeover in the backfield as last year’s end of the year starter, Peyton Barber, returns to provide more production for the team. Other returning running backs is the all-around skilled Jacquizz Rodgers and the accomplished receiver out of the backfield Charles Sims. As training camp approaches, the team also has once undrafted free agent Dalton Crossan, and Shaun Wilson, a draft pick in this year’s draft are also on the roster.

The mix of running backs the team possesses gives the Bucs a variety of styles to showcase in their offensive backfield. The drafting of USC running back Ronald Jones with the 38th pick in the draft was not to replace Barber but to complement him. The team felt like the two ballcarriers could be formidable working as a tandem. Jones will be depended upon to provide a big play element to the rushing attack that was absent a year ago and Barber is looked to for the ground and pound style already seen from him.

Tim Spender, the running backs coach for the Bucs, when asked of his initial impressions of his rookie addition, immediately mentioned the speed and quickness possessed by Jones. Spencer explained that Jones has decent size and will in all likelihood fill out more, but said that his agility and long-run capability is what he and the others on the coaching staff find truly attractive. Spencer also says that Jones has already shown he is a fast learner.

It is likely that the team will expect Jones to one day become a feature back as evidenced by the high draft pick used to secure his services, but in the meantime, they are quite excited about the tandem that he and Barber are expected to become.

Better Than Expected Start for the Rays:

A record of 13-15 may not sound all that great . . . unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays. Considering the way they looked before the start of the season, being two games under .500 little over a month into the season is quite the accomplishment.

In 2017, the Rays ended the season 80-82 in third place in the American League East Division. Soon after that began a major roster shakeup. Gone were Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Jr., Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter, Lucas Duda, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, and the face of the franchise, Evan Longoria. Manager Kevin Cash announced his plan to use his bullpen every fifth day instead of a dedicated starting pitcher. Most fans and analysts looked at 2018 as a rebuilding year for Tampa Bay, with the team destined for a last place finish.

But rebuilding might be going a bit more quickly for the Rays. Along with a 13-15 record after one month of play, they rattled off an eight-game winning streak, which included taking two of three games from one of the hottest teams in the league, the Boston Red Sox. So Tampa Bay does not appear to be the pushover many expected.

One reason for this pretty decent start is the offense. Seven of the nine everyday players are hitting better than .260, with Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith both batting over .300. Even at .178, Carlos Gomez can be dangerous, as demonstrated by his four home runs. Two newcomers have led the way for the Rays offense, Denard Span (.266, 3 HR, 21 RBIs) and C.J. Cron (.269, 7 HR, 19 RBIs). Your text to link…

Pitching has been good enough to get Tampa Bay its current record, but certainly needs to get better if they want to give other teams headaches. While Blake Snell is 4-1 with a 2.52 ERA, many others in the starting rotation and bullpen have ERAs above 4.00. This includes Chris Archer, who is 2-2 with a 6.05 ERA.

Update On Bucs Draft Plans

It is truly hard to believe but we are just six days away from the NFL Draft when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and the rest of the NFL) try to locate the next team superstar out of a particularly deep field of prospects. At this point in the draft cycle bloggers are pumping out mock drafts at unprecedented frequencies, so I thought this would be a perfect time to wrap up what some of the experts are thinking the Bucs will do with their coveted #7 pick.

For Florida State fans, there will be a familiar face going to the Bucs in a handful of mock drafts — the safety Derwin James (former Seminole) is one of the names being linked to the Bucs, including in Chad Reuter of NFL.com’s mock draft. James made headlines by refusing to meet with teams for private workouts, though he is certainly not the first prospect in recent years to do that as Christian McCaffery made the same decision just a year ago. However, the skinny on James is that he boasts NFL-ready coverage skills as well as the toughness and motor to get after the opposing team’s runningback.

However, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has another idea of who may be wearing the Bucs uniform on draft night: Saquon Barkley. For fans of college football, Barkley is a household name. He was an absolute workhorse for Penn State University and is widely regarded as perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect in the entire draft. The Bucs will benefit from the team’s in front of them not having a real need at runningback, giving them the potential to select one of the most exciting prospects in the class. Saquon Barkley is the undisputed best player at his position and it is a position that the Bucs could use a boost in and teaming a player of Barkley’s caliber with quarterback Jameis Winston may elevate the Bucs to playoff contender nearly instantaneously.

As cliche as it sounds, we just do not know how the first round of the NFL draft is going to shake out. However, I hold firm to my position that if Barkley somehow drops to #7 the Tampa Bay front office will have an impossible time passing up on him. He would bring an aura of excitement and optimism to a Bucs team that so desperately needs it.

Lightning’s Kucherov Avoids Suspension – Will Skate in Game Five Saturday in Tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning pushed within one game of advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday. They took down the New Jersey Devils 3 to 1 to take a matching advantage in their seven-game Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Lightning’s leading point producer, slammed Devil defenseman Sami Vatanen into the boards, knocking him out of the game.

After finishing off New Jersey in game five, Tampa Bay awaited a ruling from the NHL league office on the status of the NHL’s third leading point producer. Nikita Kucherov actually left the ice to level a violent hit on Vatanen, so there was some sense he could be punished with a one game suspension.

While the hit didn’t generate a penalty, the team still worried it could earn their star a lost game, or even more. It took less than 24 hours for league officials to render a decision. Kucherov will not receive any punishment for the hit that has Vatanen questionable to skate in game five.

However, as the Devils fly south to take on the Lightning in game five at Amalie Arena, their season is also day-to-day. As immediately pressing as game five is for New Jersey, Tampa Bay seriously wants to end this series now. A thought of game six back inside the raucous Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is something Lightning boss Jon Cooper wants to avoid.

The NHL playoffs can be an arduous grind. Avoiding unnecessary cross-country trips and extra games helps the team maintain a sense of freshness as they navigate their way deeper into the playoff abyss. Case and point was made during the 2003-04 Stanley Cup Championship season.

Tampa Bay sailed through the opening rounds, needing only nine games to reach the Eastern Conference against the Philadelphia Flyers. This freshness proved invaluable as it was clear the Lightning were the more energetic team. That hard-fought seven game series was followed up by the donnybrook, 2 to 1 seventh game against Calgary to win The Cup.

So, while Devil fans wait the news on the status of Sami Vatanen for game five, the Lightning are now focused on more pressing matters. Their leading scorer will play. Ending this series in Florida on Saturday afternoon is will give Tampa Bay a short breather before they welcome their second round opponent to a sellout crowd at Amalie Arena.

Rays Win Important Game in a Wild Finish over Minnesota

Thursday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays outlasted the Minnesota Twins in a 10 inning slugfest. While winning is always the idea, sometimes a victory can get lost in the overwhelming thought of a 162 game season. However, these types of wins may prove critical to the Rays having any hope of a successful season.

Tampa Bay has always faced the arduous prospects of playing in the tough American League East Division. 2018 may prove to be even more ominous. One of the Rays bitter rivals, the New York Yankees, nearly made to the World Series last season in what was supposed to be a youth movement, rebuilding year.

As the first month of the season plays out the string, New York is playing .500 baseball, but still owns a three game advantage of Tampa Bay. Sure, not much to worry about at this juncture, but another East rival has raised eyebrows with an historic start to their season.

The Boston Red Sox have been beaten only twice during the first month, and their 17 wins have them a full 11 games ahead of Tampa in the early standings. So, when Denard Span legged out an infield base hit to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, it may have been more than a simple extra-inning victory.

The victory also kept the Rays from falling into an unenviable tie for last place in the division with the Baltimore Orioles. Certainly, one month a season does not make, but with the firepower in New York and the obvious talent in Boston, falling behind by double digit games before Memorial Day, could relegate the Rays to quickly shift into “next season mode”.

Span’s hustling effort seemed to lift the spirits in the Ray’s dugout, at least for one night. Span game over from the San Francisco Giants as part of a trade that sent longtime Tampa fan-favorite third baseman Evan Longoria to the west coast. This win was also encouraging from the aspect that staff ace Chris Archer seemed to shake off early season troubles, finally pitching like he’s capable.

Extra-inning walk-off victories are great for team morale. However, with the way things are shaping up in the American League East for the Tampa Bay Rays, they may quickly prove season-saviors. With the surplus of talent in their own division, every victory by the Rays should be savored.

Lightning Look To Close Series In Game 5

In any Stanley Cup Playoff Series that closing game where you officially eliminate a team can often feel like the toughest to get. Of course, the other team will be playing with 110% energy in order to keep their season alive and the team that is ahead in the series has to be cautious not to let their focus start drifting to the potential opponents in the next round. With a 3-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils the Tampa Bay Lightning are in that predicament right now — and without a doubt they know this Devils team can be dangerous and they want to end that series tonight.

For the Devils, they may very well be without their Finnish defensemen Sami Vatanen who is questionable with an upper body injury. The Devils have already given up 5 goals 2 different times in this series, and another blow to their defense may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

As a whole, the Lightning have bounced back in a big way this season finishing 1st in the Atlantic Division just a year after missing out on the playoffs entirely. One huge reason for the Lightning’s success this season is the emergence of Victor Hedman as one of the favorites for the Norris Trophy — awarded to the best defensemen in the league. In fact, Hedman has just been named a finalist and is in the lead of a straw poll taken on Pro Hockey Rumors. Hedman, at only 27 years old, still has plenty of great seasons ahead of him but it is hard to imagine a better campaign than the one he has put together so far this season. In game 5 he will, as always, be one of the players to keep your eye on as he tries and punch the Lightning through to the 2nd round of the playoffs.

The atmosphere of playoff hockey, as cliche as it sounds, is unlike anything else in sports. Right now the Lightning are as good as any other team in the NHL and you can bet they are looking to clinch tonight on their home ice, burying a pesky Devils team that will be fighting fearlessly to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive.